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Islamic State: UK troops may train moderate Syrian rebels

Michael Fallon
Image caption Defence Secretary Michael Fallon indicated that UK troops could train moderate Syrian rebels to fight IS

UK troops could be deployed to train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State militants (IS), the defence secretary has said.

Michael Fallon told BBC News that UK troops could be sent to a country neighbouring Syria, possibly Jordan.

He insisted however that UK forces would not engage in direct combat.

The US is leading efforts to train a Syrian opposition to fight IS, also known as ISIS, which has captured large parts of of the country.

The country's National Security Adviser Susan Rice said a deal had been reached with Turkey to allow the US to train Syrian rebels on its soil, although this has been denied by Turkish officials.

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Image caption UK forces are already training the Peshmerga to use heavy artillery

Mr Fallon discussed the possibility of launching training operations, while visiting the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship, Argus, in Falmouth.

A specialist team of 12 soldiers from the Yorkshire Regiment is already training Kurdish fighters in Iraq to use UK-supplied heavy machine guns.

And the UK is to fund bomb disposal training for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to counter the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced on Monday.

The Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechirvan Barzani said he was "thankful" for the international community's support.

But he added that Kurdish forces needed "more advanced weapons to fight against ISIS".

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